elements of design
with sarah wilkerson
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Full Participation sold out.
Elements of Design covers the major components of artistic composition and discusses how photographers can use these elements to maximize an image’s aesthetic appeal and influence its psychological significance. This course focuses on using distinct compositional elements to help you define your vision before you press the shutter, to increase the energy and interestingness of your images, and to ultimately broaden and improve your overall portfolio. We’ll discuss the elements of design, undertake a personal portfolio evaluation, and engage in upper-level analysis of several of the most critical aesthetic components used in composition. The instructor will remain available to you for all five weeks and will hold a webcam based “office hour” for live Q&A, demonstrations, and discussions during break week.
4 weeks + 1 break week
daily shooting required
6-8 hours of work per week
this course has prerequisites
All participants must have a mastery of technical basics (exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc) and proficiency with their preferred processing software. Participants need not shoot in manual regularly but must be comfortable doing so. We will not be covering or critiquing technical basics in this course.
A 30 image portfolio (minimum) must be assembled prior to the commencement of the workshop.
Sarah Wilkerson is the CEO of ClickinMoms and a photographer of eight years. Her approach to photography is guided by literary Romanticism and cinematography, and she gravitates towards low light settings and the dreaminess of tilt shift work. A former attorney and graduate of Duke University, Sarah is a married to a skydiving Army JAG and has four children.
The following photographers also participate in discussions and provide assignment critiques as teaching assistants: Kristy Dooley, Kristin Dokoza, and Elicia Graves
A number of course alumni are invited to engage in discussion, share insight with students, and provide feedback and encouragement throughout the course.
• 4 Weekly Printable Lesson Downloads with Assignments (outlined in syllabus)
• Instructor-Led Online Q&A for Each Lesson
• Personal Critiques of Weekly Assignments by Instructor & TAs
• 90 Minute Live Office Hours and Workflow Walkthrough (plus Recording)
• Color Editing for Impact & Intent: Photoshop and Lightroom Videos
• Introductory and Wrap-Up PDFs with Introspective Bonus Exercises
Study Along students will have access to all materials and will be able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum and receive access to their own private subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments.
Welcome & Preassignment
Reading: the importance of practice and upper-level critique; introduction to design elements
Preassignment (optional): Portfolio self-assessment
Lesson One: Lines
Reading: The art and psychology of lines; linear form, function, and type
Assignment: Theme selection and lines
Lesson Two: Space and Shape
Reading: Visual deconstruction; Subject placement for story and mood; Shapes
Assignment: Creative subject placement within the frame
Live Office Hours
Discussion (optional): The Elusive Muse
Lesson Three: Color
Reading: Color theory; Color palettes; Chromatic association; Color manipulation
Assignment: Color focus
Lesson Four: Transformative Photography
Reading: Limitations of human vision; processing for transformation and optic simulation; black and white
Assignment: Producing a transformative image
The CMU workshop is a 100% online classroom experience. Once you sign up, you have access to a course forum that is open 24 hours a day so that you can learn and join discussions on your own schedule.
Each week students receive a set of course materials– these materials generally include a PDF and/or videos. Throughout the week, instructors and TAs are present in the forum every day to answer questions and offer encouragement. Students receive an assignment each week that pertains to the topics covered in the course materials and class discussion throughout the week.
Full Participation students engage in an interactive online classroom experience that includes instructor-led group discussions and detailed, personalized guidance for the duration of the workshop. Full participation students post their assignments in the forum and receive instructor and TA critiques each week. They also have lifetime access to a Workshop Alumni forum for continued peer discussion after the course concludes.
Study Along students have access to all materials and are able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum. They also receive access to their own private Study Along subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments, but they can follow along with instructor critiques of the Full Participation assignments.
Whether you are a Full Participation student or a Study Along student, the course materials are yours to keep.